Comments about ‘Defending the Faith: Defending the Faith: The Prophet Joseph Smith was no double-dealing cynic’

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Published: Thursday, June 30 2011 5:00 a.m. MDT

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Danbury, CT

The Book of Mormon itself is a weighty, complex piece of evidence that Joseph Smith was a prophet. He accounts for more pages of scripture than Moses, Paul, Peter and John combined. He could have gone to FAR less trouble to establish himself as others have done in founding a religion. The Book of Mormon reads like a historical work with many characters, changing narrative and lengthy timeline. All with a powerful testimony of Christ as the common thread.

The reaction to Joseph Smith has been very similar to reaction to Christ and His Apostles. The religious establishment considered Christ and Paul to be "devils", Christianity was a "cult". Non believers took them to be mad. Both groups persecuted them to death. The Reformers and others sought for a Restoration (see Roger Williams' statement) and each church has sought to restore one aspect or several (eg. Baptism, direct reading of Scripture). Each offshoot of Protestantism has been persecuted and then become persecutor as subsequent religions were founded.

I wish all those who despise Mormonism and Joseph Smith would take Gamaliel's advice.

Harwich, MA

I'm sorry but many of the historical moments you're cherishing as faith promoting and actual "history" just are not factual. You can love Joseph all you want but at least make it based on facts, not fantasy.

Durham, NC

As one whose family tree includes many of those actors in the early church, I am often discouraged by the constant white washing of our own history in this church. The men were just that, just men. They were not "saints", but people doing the best they knew how, and capable of mistakes, and poor judgement.

Claiming that any accounts that put any of these men in a negative light have been deemed inaccurate is a total misrepresentation of fact. Each and every one of them had failings, as do we. But the sum was much greater then the individual failings each had.

One of the most dishonest things we do to our youth is the impression that those that came before us were somehow able to live perfect lives, setting an unrealistic bar. We would do them much more favor if we showed our youth that these men had their own issues, but worked and fought to over come those. It is a message of hope and repentance.

But so long as we have historians who present tainted images of the past, only harm can come when the full and accurate story is really presented.

Somewhere in Time, UT

Dr. Peterson: Another excellent article and, as always, based on logic, reason and reality. Thanks for your efforts.

sandy, ut

This article points out one important thing to me. It says that if the whole thing was a fraud and many people were in on it so it wouldn't have worked because over time their motives change and they would have gone separate ways. Well, from what I see that is exactly what happened. Martin Harris went his own way. David Whitmer went his own way. Most of the eleven witnesses went their own ways. So strong was their visions of the plates and of god and of the seer stones that they left the church. Not one or two of them, but nearly all of them. That is a glaring fact.

Weber State Graduate
Clearfield, UT

"...he must have been either dishonest or delusional, or some hybrid of the two."

I have an extremely difficult time giving him the benefit-of-the-doubt with respect to the Book of Abraham. His "translation" of the three facsimiles are such a gross misrepresention that any Egyptian scholar involved in a similar blatant distortion would be exposed as a fraud and ostracized from the academic community.

Understanding of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics during Joseph's time allowed the perpetuation of his translation to go unchallenged. As a result, I believe he felt he had nothing to fear regarding a credible challenge. As a result, it's simply too hard for me to believe that he wasnt either "dishonest or delusional" when it comes to this specific issue.

Orem, UT

UtahBlueDevil, I share your disgust at seeing Peterson argue that Joseph Smith and the other early Mormons were perfect, white-washing them to pretend that they were without any flaws or errors.

I simply can't believe that he claims that! And when he goes on to maintain that they were all seven-foot-tall blonde Asians, I'm left literally SPEECHLESS.

Come on, friend. He never made any such arguments.

Phoenix, AZ

"...he must have been either dishonest or delusional, or some hybrid of the two."

Why is it that the DN censors every post that mentions Emma not knowing about Joseph's other wives. Is there a story here, please tell us DN. Is it that the DN is still harboring the past church feelings of Emma as pariah. I understand that Emma is now accepted as an elect lady. So why the censor.


"But mere subjective delusion within Joseph's mind cannot explain the material objects the sword of Laban, the Liahona, the plates, the breastplate and the "interpreters"."

Yeah, but if you really believe what the witnesses said, then you believe that these objects are now in a cave in the Hill Cumorah, a cave with apparently magical power that opens up to allow people to enter. So why don't we go to the hill and verify whether or not there is a cave full of "material objects"?

The answer is that not even Mormon scholars believe that those objects are there, or they believe that some supernatural power prevents their discovery, in which case I'm not sure we can call them "material objects."

Port Alice, B.C.

All of the non believers are having fun. Peterson did not say Joseph Smith was perfect. He said that the evidence does not reveal a scam artist. Nor does it reveal a delusional fool. He was a prophet and he was a man who made mistakes.

Some of the witnesses may have left the church, but none of them ever recanted their testimonies.

Phoenix, AZ

Thank you DN for finally allowing me to post my question and concern about Joseph deceiving Emma with his involvment in plural marriages. My question is the same as many of todays concerns of how can you trust or believe someone who lies and cheats on their spouse: the person who is their best friend and who they have sworn to honor and obey, etc. If their spouse can't believe or trust them, then how can anyone else be expected to. It is a simple honest question that I would like Mr. Petersen to answer.


Joseph Smith, was a magnanimous man, whose heart and soul sparkled excitingly and he was attuned to the Will of God. As a leader he was far ahead in his thinking and his ideas exceeded the boundaries of his time. He was searching for tolerance of all men, whatever their station. He was a man immersed in the restoration of Ancient Covenants. His followers struggled to establish their freedom to worship God as they were taught and had exhausted all legal and rational resources seeking redress from a State out to exterminate them. His efforts met with failure. He was appalled by the lack of executive direction and felt that under the US Constitutional provisions, a man or a people, who are able to protect themselves can get along well enough; but those who have the misfortune to be weak or unpopular are left to the merciless rage of powerful mobs.

Provo, Ut

"All of the non believers are having fun. Peterson did not say Joseph Smith was perfect. He said that the evidence does not reveal a scam artist. Nor does it reveal a delusional fool. He was a prophet and he was a man who made mistakes.

Some of the witnesses may have left the church, but none of them ever recanted their testimonies."

The evidence??? What evidence are you referring to? Joseph Smith claims to have had gold plate, and a sword from a person mentioned in those plate, but that he had to give them back to an angel. Is that your evidence?

The witnesses never maintained consistent testimonies, to the point that even today many are confused by exactly what the witnesses bore witness of.

sandy, ut

BobP - So the witnesses leaving the church has no bearing on what you believe? You must admit that them leaving the church is something that speaks volumes. How could so many men - believers and followers of Joseph Smith and witnesses to the supposed restoration later leave the very organization they knew to be true? It doesn't make sense. It is not like one or two left. Most of them did. That is not a coincidence. So they saw the plates, and the angel, had a testimony strong enough to testify of it to others, then all of the sudden decided it wasn't for them? That is something that must be taken into consideration. That and Moroni couldn't deliver the plates to Joseph - yet was able to take them up to heaven. Oh and another thing, the plates were too sacred to be seen by others, but not too sacred to be stolen? That makes no sense either. If these are the facts you are putting your belief in then so be it - but remember they are facts.

Danbury, CT

@Weber State Grad:

What about the main text of the Book of Abraham - what do you think about that? It's an amazing piece of doctrine and narrative as well as the Book of Moses and all these texts bridge the Old and New Testaments and place Christ clearly at the center of all the Dispensations. Maybe the source doesn't line up but what about the end result?

We have the Rosetta Stone which tells us what the Egyptians were saying. Are we certain that these heiroglyphics, which are some 4,000 years old, really make no reference to the things Joseph Smith was talking about? If you can believe in God and that He has been communicating since the beginning of time, why wouldn't we find earlier content that speaks of God and Christ?

For me it's not that cut and dry...I've lived in several countries and have travelled in the Middle East. I see things that both confirm and don't confirm my belief. So for me, I see enough connection to make me think there is some substance to Jos. Smith's claims.

Chino Valley, AZ

Although the intent was to show the quality of the man [Joseph Smith], the article has once again opened door by a member of the church to non members that the church history may not be all that credible.
Some quotes from the article can provide fuel for the professional anti authors to write new books.
The 700 club and others will have a field day broadcasting around the world this kind of message.

The Book of Mormon musical > Damage control
Dr Peterson Article > Damage Control

With this kind of message the Missionaries work may just get harder.

I love the spirit of Christ in the Church; but just not very happy at the moment. "And I am a Mormon"

Danbury, CT

It appears we have a lot of doubters (from across the US) who still read the D News. Some of you haven't quite left the church apparently. I don't see the connection between what Peterson wrote and what many of you are saying or the anger in which you seem to be expressing it.

Peterson's article contains one paragraph about artifacts people claimed to see and the rest is about journal entries. Nothing about non-factual things or white-washing. You all seem to want to weigh in just to complain.

What have you done with your lives? Are you trying to build others up and improve situations in the world? How are you lifting your spouses and families?? I suggest you do less to tear down and find some productive things to do.

In my view Joseph Smith was a religious humanist who believed in the unlimited power and potential of the human soul - that EVERYONE has a potential for great things. I don't understand those who waste their days - either in his time or now - trying to tear those ideals down. Take a good look at your motives...

New Yorker
Pleasant Grove, UT

skeptic - You can't get answers in this type of forum--not enough space or time! If you're sincere, go to the FAIR site. This is from there:

"The facts seem to be that Emma became aware of the marriage at some point, probably involved Oliver and perhaps other church leaders, and was upset enough to eventually insist that Fanny leave her home. Todd Compton argues that these accounts can be harmonized since regardless of whether Emma saw her husband in the barn or discovered evidence of Fannys pregnancy, her reaction was the same. This stance glosses over a key pointit may well be that both the Webbs and McLellin are either mistaken or lying. That Emma was upset is certain. But the contradictions and problems with these two hostile accounts give us no reason to conclude that the truth must be that Emma discovered either Joseph and Fanny in the barn or a pregnancy. ...ones attitude toward Joseph, the church, and plural marriage will influence how such contradictory and biased testimony is interpreted."

New Yorker
Pleasant Grove, UT

skeptic - continued from FAIR:
"Emma would later give her permission for Joseph to marry two sisters who also lived in the Smith homeEmily and Eliza Partridge. Yet Emma was soon to change her mind and eventually compelled these wives to leave her home. It is thus consistent with her later behavior for her to have agreed (if only reluctantly) to a marriage with Fanny only to have second thoughts later."

Phoenix, AZ

@eastcoastcoug, Perhaps you may find the answer to your question, in that while many find comfort at the table of good natured fairy tales they also have a hunger for the truth. The search for truth has never been a bad motive. As a matter of fact is there not something in the LDS church doctrine that counsels one to seek out the truth. In most believers thoughts, is god not truth. Is wanting to know god (truth) then a waste of time. To doubt is to discover, ( hopefully).

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